The Reel Review

C+

Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) stars in this film adaptation of the Jane Austen classic about a wealthy young woman in 1800s England whose meddlesome matchmaking threatens to derail her own chances at finding love.

First the pros: this 2020 version has some fantastic period costumes and art direction, as well as strong performances from Mia Goth (Suspiria) as Harriet (that heartbreaking scene at the ball, in particular), Miranda Hart (Spy) as the incessantly chatty Miss Bates and Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley. Where this film falls short, compared to the 1996 adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow, is a much longer list. Despite a few funny moments, Eleanor Catton’s screenplay is clumsier and colder, with director Autumn de Wilde’s vision lacking the cleverness, subtle quirkiness and comedy that made Douglas McGrath’s 1996 film so charming. Equally cold is Taylor-Joy’s Emma, contributing to a darker, less satisfying film.

Spend the $20 if you must, but you’ll likely wish you had saved your money and stuck with Paltrow’s sweeter, more nuanced film. Our review of THAT Emma is here.

REEL FACTS

• Anya Taylor-Joy and Mia Goth also co-starred in the 2017 psychological horror Marrowbone.

• Connor Swindells and Tanya Reynolds both appear in the Netflix series Sex Education.

• Director Autumn de Wilde says the period after the title in her adaptation is to indicate that it is a period film. ?.

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